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After discussing with multiple fitness and strength experts, triathletes and triathlon coaches, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this but rather a series of questions and criteria to help you make your own informed decision. Just as athletes have differing opinions about strength training, so too do coaches and medical professionals. Factors such as an athlete’s injury history, age, goals and perhaps most important, weekly time constraints all must be considered.
There are a number of triathletes that firmly believe, strength training has a place in every training regimen. If triathletes are trained properly with their strength training, their muscular systems typically become stronger and will be able to perform at a higher level all whilst using less energy. Understanding which muscles and muscle groups are used the most in triathlons is fundamental when implementing a strength training program.
Although, swim, bike, run and recovery occupy the majority of any triathletes training time, and everything else is supplemental based on available hours in the week. Strength training can be beneficial for improving overall muscular endurance and can be a weapon in any triathlete’s inventory, but it may not be the one that lands the killing blow.
Many triathletes and triathlon coaches negate strength training all together and believe excess muscle being hauled around on the course is more of a hindrance. Whilst some believe that with adequate swimming, running and cycling drills being performed in training all the relevant muscle groups that need to be trained are trained.
Performing the correct exercises and working the entire muscular system can help create a balanced body, which can actually help prevent injuries. Understanding the correct exercise, number of sets and repetitions is crucial in targeting specific areas and working the right muscles. The strength training has to be specific. There is no point an ironman athlete walking around the gym pushing out one rep out on his maximum load – the training must be specific to the sport. So lots of repetitions with a higher number of sets with a lower weight load working till fatigue is in my opinion the optimum weight session for triathletes looking to get into strength training.
I am a firm believer in lifting weights and taking part in strength based activities to improve performance. Setting out extra time to partake in strength training exercises during the week is a crucial part of my workout plan. Obviously swimming, cycling and running does take president however finding ample time for a specific and relevant strength training plan can be a crucial part of a triathletes training plan.